Stint cargo bike maker files for bankruptcy

One version of a Stint cargo vehicle made to carry multiple children. 12 April 2018.. (Tulp8 / Wikimedia Commons)

Stint Urban Mobility, the manufacturer of electric cargo bikes like the one that was involved in a fatal railway accident in Oss last month, is filing for bankruptcy on Monday. "I do not see a way out, now that the government does not want to talk to us about how we can get the Stint back on the road. It's over", director Edwin Renzen said to RTL Nieuws.

A Stint was involved in a railway accident in Oss on September 20th. A childminder was taking five children to primary school on a Stint when they were hit by a train at a railway crossing on Braakstraat. Four children were killed. The childminder and the fifth child sustained serious injuries. On October 1st, Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen of Infrastructure and Water Management banned Stints from the road as a "precaution", after preliminary investigation revealed that the vehicles may be unsafe. 

According to Renzen, the investigation based on which Stints were banned was incorrect. "The Stint is not unsafe. We do not yet now what the cause of the accident in Oss was. But we do know that there have never been serious problems", he said to the broadcaster. He is particularly critical of the Inspectorate for Human Environment and Transport. "Something went very wrong there and they are not being open about it. They try to brush it away." The company filed a complaint with the Ministry.

Renzen hoped to find a way to get his vehicles back on the road in consultation with the Ministry. After a last discussion last week, Renzen concluded that this will not work. "It was not a conversation. They're waiting for all the investigations. We simply do not have that time." He informed his employees on Friday and will file for bankruptcy on Monday. On Tuesday a court will decide whether to declare the company bankrupt. 

"I can not imagine the application not being approved. It's over. No money came in for weeks, money is only going out to extra costs. We've turned into a ghost company and there is no reasonable perspective left. It is over. A beautiful product has become worthless scrap", Renzen said. According to him, there is no chance of a restart.

Stint Urban Mobility's bankruptcy will have major consequences for the childcare institutions that use the electric cargo bikes to transport children. Around 3,500 Stints are currently in circulation, according to the broadcaster. The childcare institutions already made other arrangements to transport their kids after the Minister banned the Stint, but if the company goes bankrupt, these other arrangements will have to become permanent. 

According to RTL, experts expect a tough fight over damage claims and liability between all parties involved - the Ministry, Stint Urban Mobility, childcare institutions, and companies that bought or lease the Stints. 

"I cried when I had to make this decision", Renzen said to the broadcaster. "But I am an entrepreneur, I can not overcome this blow. I find it bad for my colleagues and all our partners who believed in it. But the worst is that the solution we brought for a social problem is lost. How will you get safe and environmentally friendly transport for all those children? We are gone now, but the problems for schools and childcare are not."